There are many different types of game meats out there to try. Some good, some bad. But, with many years of experience in the field of bow hunting and with the input of other hunters that I’ve run into over the years as well, these are the picks that I personally would say are the best tasting. Check them out here:
- Wild Turkey
- Whitetail Deer
- Mountain Sheep
- Bobwhite Quail
- Axil Deer
- Mallard Duck
- Mule Deer
That’s the list in short, but if you’d like to learn a little bit more about each one to give you a better idea of what each tastes like, then I highly recommend reading on. Each meat has its own unique taste and while some are better than others, all of them are pretty delicious, to say the least. With that said, though, let’s go a little deeper into each type of meat.
P.S. – For all of your field dressing needs, scroll down to the bottom for the recommendations that I use when skinning my animals.
1) Wild Turkey
Said by many to be rich, full of flavor and not have much of a gamey taste, the wild turkey is one small game animal that is enjoyed all across the world. Wild turkey are free-range birds, so unlike many other wild animals, they live a life of having the freedom to consume anything they desire, and this usually consists of berries, corns, beans, and other healthy foods.
If you know anything about the consumption of wild animals or have tasted wild game before, then you should know that animals usually taste like what they mostly eat. This can be a bad thing for a lot of animals in the animal kingdom, but for the wild turkey, this makes hunting and eating them a jackpot for your taste buds.
If you haven’t eaten or hunted a wild turkey before and want to get the most of your eating experience when you do decide to, then make sure to go for the dark meat on these little guys as this is known to be the part that is most rich and flavorful compared to the rest of the bird.
2) Whitetail Deer
Depending on certain factors such as age, gender or type of food a deer has eaten, the taste on these things can differ from one another. But if you were to ask most hunters what a deer tastes like, the general answer would be that they either taste rich, earthy, or both.
If you want to get the most out of your deer eating experience, then the best tasting and less gamey ones you should probably go for would be with the younger bucks. This is typically because, with older deer, the game is usually tougher than that of a younger deer and I don’t know too many who love their meat to be too gamey.
I know every hunter’s dream is to score the biggest buck possible, but if you’re looking for an enjoyable meal and want something that tastes great and that the family will enjoy, then hunting for that younger buck will probably be your best bet. If bagged, prepared, and cooked properly, this could very well be a meal that the whole family will be asking for more often.
And if you’re like me and get a little jittery when it comes to taking these guys down, then I recommend checking this article out here that I wrote. I give tips and pointers on how to control what we hunters call ” buck fever ” if you’re not already familiar with the term.
3) Mountain Sheep
I got a chance to taste one of these animals a few years back and I have to say I was absolutely blown away by the taste it had. Considering the type of habitat mountain sheep reside in, I naturally thought that the meat on these sheep would be dry and gamey, but after trying it out I was quickly proven wrong.
If you’re interested in trying one for yourself, then hunt in areas around meadows, mountain slopes, and foothills. They are typically found in drier climates, but let me tell you that this does not reflect on how well they taste.
The meat they carry is rich, flavorful and hardly gamey at all. After doing a little bit of research, I have found that others have said the same. In my area, mountain sheep are not a commonly hunted animal, so it is rarely talked about. But when you do decide to go after one, you will definitely not be disappointed with the taste.
4) Bobwhite Quail
Known to have somewhat of a strong and flavorful taste to them, quail is one go-to bird that many hunters enjoy. If you have ever hunted and cooked duck before, then you can kind of get a feel for what quail will taste like. Its flavor is not as strong as the duck, but when asked to explain what the quail tastes like, many hunters have often described them as having a duck taste more than anything.
The meat is very tender and will go well without about any meal side you can think of. Whether you want to bake it, deep fry it, or cook it on the stove, quail has been said to taste amazing with any cooking method and will go over well with even the most stubborn eaters.
Because of the flavor it possesses, you will have no problem breaking out the strong herbs and spices and going to town when seasoning and prepping your quail. Its rich flavor mixed with the taste of some great tasting spices will call for a great meal every time.
Depending on your preference, caribou has been considered to be one of the best big game meats out there. They have a strong relation and resemblance to reindeer and have been compared to veal or antelope when it comes to how they taste.
Described by others as having a taste that crosses between venison and beef, caribou is a first meat choice when it comes to hunting bigger game. I have yet to experience this, but some say that rutty caribou tastes pretty bad, and I guess this would be because of a few factors, but depending on what state you live in or what the caribou has been eating or fed, the taste can differ immensely.
For some hunters, caribou is at the top of the list for best big game meat they’ve ever tried in their life, but for some, they say it was the worst tasting thing they could have ever come across. So when hunting, make sure you’re paying attention to what condition and environment they’ve been in before bagging up your meat.
Elk is one of the most desired and sought after game meats out there, and for many reasons. When you’re hunting for elk, you can be assured that the meat you will be getting is not gamey. Their meat is packed with flavor and also with nutritional value as well.
They are mostly made up of dark, dense, and tender meat and will not need to be marinated in order to get the most out of them. Low in fat, cholesterol and high in protein makes them a prized kill for hunters and is a highly recommended game animal because of this. They are often described as tasting like beef and have even been used to replace real beef in homemade recipes.
It’s one thing to have good tasting meat, but it’s another to have healthy meat as well. Sometimes it can be hard getting one with the other, but with the elk, it is possible. If you’re new to hunting or have never tried game before, then I highly recommend elk for your first game meat experience.
Here’s an article here that I wrote specifically about hunting elk for beginners if you’d like to up your chances of successfully tagging one while out on your first hunt for them.
If you’re going to hunt moose for meat, then the best time to hunt them would be in the summer or mid-summer when there are still lots of leafy plants and berries. The reason for this is because the difference in taste when hunting them then and in the winter differs quite a bit.
In the summertime, moose can be said to taste like grass-fed beef. But in the winter, moose tend to start eating leaves and conifers, therefore, leaving them with a gamey taste when consumed. When eating them, you’ll want to avoid consuming their fat as this has been said to not taste very good unless the moose has lived in grainy areas filled with corn.
Just like most game animals, the taste of your moose will depend on what was consumed and where it is located, but when you do catch one under the right circumstances, you will definitely not be disappointed.
8) Axis Deer
Definitely one of the better game meats on this list and arguably the best tasting game on the planet, the axis deer has been coined as a hunter’s favorite when it comes to taste and if I had to give my honest opinion as well, I’d have to say that I pretty much agree.
I don’t necessarily like think that I had a favorite considering that I have many game meats that I love, but if someone asked me to choose, I think the axis deer would take the cake. Tender, full of flavor and free of that dreaded game taste, the axis deer has won the hearts of hunters from all over the world.
If you want the out your experience with eating axil deer, try going for a doe as this is said to be the best tasting when it comes to this deer.
9) Mallard Duck
I personally love eating this duck, but when I searched to see how other hunters felt about it, I got a bunch of mixed answers. Some love it and some say it tastes too gamey, but anytime I’ve eaten a mallard I’ve found that it tastes just fine.
Compared to having a taste similar to the bobwhite quail, this bird is delicious. Like other hunters have said, they do carry a bit of a liver taste to them, but for me, it is just enough to keep me coming back for more. Not too strong or not too light.
The fish and sea animals that they dive into the water to eat can affect the way they taste, but if cared for and prepared properly, the mallard can be worth every bit of meat that it carries. If you want to avoid dealing with the stronger taste that the divers have, then your best bet would be to get one that is a non-diver. Seems like an obvious solution, but it will make a difference that will be hard to miss.
For beginning hunters, antelope can sometimes be mistaken for a deer, but little do many people know that these animals actually belong to a family that consists of goats and oxen. This is important to know so that when you finally do get ahold of one of these you’re not telling your friends and family that you tried venison for the first time like I did when first starting out as a hunter.
Although deer and antelope are different species, their meat can often be mistaken for one another if one is unaware of what they’re trying. This is because the taste of their meat is usually mild-tasting, finely grained and extremely similar to venison.
I have only tried antelope in North Ameria, so I can only speak on the taste regarding the ones we have here. If you go overseas though, you might find that the antelope there have a totally different taste to them. Some have said that certain species within the antelope family can have a sweet and nutty taste.
11) Mule Deer
It is very important to care for your meat properly when handling meat from a mule deer. The steps you take and don’t take can be critical to how it tastes after you grill it up, so just keep in mind that time is of the essence here.
Just like any other deer, the way they taste will almost 100% depend on the deer’s diet, but this does not mean that you will not have good meat. After cleaning, some hunters like to wrap their meat in bacon and others like to fry it up on the grill, but after cutting all the fat out, aka the most gamy part of the deer, you will find that what’s left to eat is pretty lean and will usually require you to add something else to your meal to give your body what it needs for nourishment and satisfaction.
Mule deer can provide some of the tastiest game meat out there, but how you care for it and how and what the deer ate will almost always be the deciding factor on whether your game will be good to eat or not. If your deer has been eating around in the sage or eating something else that can make it taste funny, then you will definitely know.
Common complains have been that squirrel is tough, dry and hard to clean, but this has a lot to do with the timing in which you decide to field dress your squirrel and how long you cook them. After killing an animal in the wild, you’re on the clock, so just like other game, you’ll want to field dress your squirrel while it’s still warm. This can make things way easier for you in the long-run.
As for cooking them, the outcome of your meat will almost always depend on how long you cook them for. Just like almost anything you can cook, like chicken, for example, if not done right, it will be hard and dry just like with your game meat.
You can either have squirrel meat that falls right off the bone or meat that will have you chewing all night just to finish it, so decide which one you want and do what you can to care for your meat from the very beginning so that you don’t have to deal with that headache later.
The best way to describe squirrel meat is to say that “it tastes like chicken”.
Just like other game birds, the pheasant has been one of those that is compared to tasting like chicken. It’s funny how most people who taste unfamiliar meats or try something that they have a hard time relating it to say that it tastes like chicken, but apparently to a lot of people it actually does.
They carry lean meat and if not prepared properly can taste bland and have the texture of a rubber boot. Not really, but it will be tough to chew. If possible, season them up and then glaze them with a nice, thick sauce afterward. This will definitely ensure that the pheasant your about to eat tastes like heaven in your mouth and not just a bland piece of dry meat.
Since it’s lean and would be considered small game, it is best to have something else as a side to go with it.
If you enjoy meat that is lean and slightly gamey, then rabbit meat is for you. Although it contains white meat that resembles that of a chicken, the taste that these little guys give taste a lot more like pork.
They can be compared to having the taste of a pheasant and is one of those small games that thousands upon thousands love to eat.
Field Dressing Equipment
Sharp Hunting Knife –
Sorry, but the kitchen knife won’t do it. If you want to slice through your game with ease, then get your hands on one of these here. Made out of carbon steel, this blade is built for longevity, durability, and will do a great job at skinning your game without tugging and a ton of force.
This blade also comes with a brown, leather belt sheath and a hole on the back end of the handle to be hung as a lanyard.
We plan on eventually consuming this meat, so in order to keep it as clean as possible before hanging it up, we’ll want to dress our game on a large tarp in order to avoid exposing our meat to feces, blood, and dirt. If you want to cut your meat on a clean surface, then I recommend checking this tarp out here.
Field dressing this way is a cleaner and safer way than just cutting it straight on the ground or on a tree stump, for example.
Game Bags –
Without game bags, you’ll have a very hard time cooling your meat down after you’ve skinned your animal. Trash bags, grocery bags, or any other kind of bag with limited breathability will cause bacteria to grow on your meat much quicker, so with that said, you’ll need to get your hands on a set of bags more breathable, such as these bags here from Amazon.
These bags can be used for larger game animals such as moose, deer. elk, and antelope.
After you dress your game, it’s time to get your meat up in the air for the cooling process. Whether you want to hoist 600 lbs or 1,500 lbs, this lifting system here will get the job done with pretty much any game that you want to hang.
This lifting system is manufactured by a reputable company, so the quality is great, especially for the price.